What are the different ways you guys reach out to parents? Is there anything unique that you feel that really works or that you would like to share?
-Workshops focused on math or reading strategies
-Invite them in for Author's Publishing parties
-Phone calls home, home visits
I don't do the workshops myself, but the school does.
Remember that positive contacts are just as important (maybe even more!) than negative ones.
I also do a weekly (Friday) behavior report that also includes work habits etc. The parents really like it. I do it for all of the kids.
I encourage parents to e mail me too, as I am not always easy to reach by phone. I just had business cards made for the first time. I have always done them myself, but found a great buy and they are really much nicer.
We use agendas in our school that include a page for notes right next to the day of the week. Parents write to me and I write to them. I also have a book club. There are usually about 4-5 groups, each group reading a different book. I invite the parents to read with their kids and then have a book club every other Friday. The parents come in and sit with their group and listen to the kids discuss (I give the kids specific jobs to do for the book so they have a jumping off point to get them talking.) The parents join in the discussion, help to expand on the kids' ideas etc. It is a really nice time.
I have these little cards that are called " Praise Cards" . I think they were purchased from Really Good stuff. These are sent home with students when they have done a great job or gone above and beyond.
My school really encourages parent involvement. I really talk up coming to each lunch with the their child and some do come every single week. We have a few pic-nics during the year, and we invite our parents. Nothing fancy, just sack lunches (brought from home) and time to visit and eat together.
We didn't do it this year, but last year my class had a play that we performed for the parents. That was a lot of fun. This year's class was too wild to even attempt that, but hopefully next year we can again.
Volunteer in the room- Depeding on the parent, they may read with a child, hang up/take down boards, cut out things, help with parties, field trips, etc. Some of mine have to do work at their home, but they are willing to do it.
Other have always said these, but you know I find the more involved I make my parents, the better year I have.
- email - so much quicker than phone calls
- progress reports
I have the parents fill out a sheet that includes things that will help me know their child as a student and as an individual. Things like favorite book and TV show, siblings and parents, academic strenghts and weaknesses, medical info, and friendships. This sheet is sent home soon after the school year starts and then about 2 weeks after school has begun we have "Getting to Know You" conferences. We talk about getting to know their child and not about progress. We also talk about when is the best time to reach them and how to reach them. This starts the year off on a good note.
I think the most important thing is the regular and consistent communication. I do a weekly progress report for the first semester, and after that it's every other week. My students complete a Homework Assignment sheet that parent and I initial each day. It also includes their behavior for the day. Even though it's 5th grade, my kids need organizational habits and parents need constant feedback to be sure the kids aren't slacking. We have monthly celebrations that parents are invited to attend in the classroom. Most parents can't attend because they work, but they always contribute food/drinks, etc. For the most part, I believe that my parents are very involved and supportive of what we do. It also has a lot to do with the students and their willingness to be sure they keep parents informed when papers go home. Sometimes we email each other, but everyone isn't online. I am very happy with the kind of support and involvement that I have with parents. Whatever you do next year, just try really hard to be consistent. Hope that helps.